Population growth prompts Waipa District Council to add fifth councillor

10 August, 2018

Cambridge will be represented by one more councillor and community board member in order to comply with the law, but not everyone agrees with the idea.

Waipā District Council had a formal review of how ratepayers will be represented. All New Zealand councils are required to do this every six years.

Due to population growth in Cambridge, the council needs one more Cambridge ward councillor and community board member, to comply with the Local Electoral Act. The law requires all members of a council to represent the same number of people, plus or minus 10 per cent.

Waipā councillors would each represent between 3,670 and 4,485 people when a fifth elected member was added to the Cambridge ward.

The council agreed on August 7 to move the proposal to public consultation. Council staff had considered 24 options, and found adding an extra councillor and board member for Cambridge would be the least disruptive. They indicated all other options would have required significant shifts of ward boundaries, which would dispossess some urban and rural areas of their appropriate representation.

But Te Awamutu councillor Vern Wilson voted against it.

"I don't agree with the number of councillors or community board members," Wilson said. He pointed out that Hamilton City Council only has 12 councillors, and represented about 13,000 each.

"I honestly believe we've got more than enough councillors. I can't see why every time Cambridge grows you've got to put another councillor in. It just doesn't make sense."

But Waipā mayor Jim Mylchreest said the change will have no effect on targeted rates.

He said the latest proposal by the independent Remuneration Authority means all councils in New Zealand will be told how much they can spend in total on salaries for councillors, there would be very​ little extra cost to ratepayers from having an additional councillor.

If Council decided to add a new councillor for Cambridge, that would come into effect for the 2019 local government elections.

The public consultation document is available from Waipā District Council offices and libraries, or online at waipadc.govt.nz/haveyoursay​. Feedback closes on September 10.

- Waikato Times

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